Isle Marines off to Afghanistan
About 1,000 members of the 1st Battalion will be deployed there for seven months
Kaneohe Marines who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are now off to Afghanistan again, this time for seven months.
Since 2004 there has been a contingent of nearly 1,000 Kaneohe Marines in Afghanistan.
Gunnery Sgt. Philip Myers, a 14-year veteran, estimated that about 25 percent of the nearly 1,000 Marines who were in the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, when it deployed to Iraq in 2004 will again see combat in Afghanistan.
The Marines in his unit "are ready to go," said Myers, a 1991 Campbell High School graduate. "They want to go and handle business."
Myers, who joined the 1st Battalion last April, said the seven-month deployment is "just another part of the job you have to do."
His wife, Sandra, said she does not see any difference in her husband's current deployment.
"To me it's all the same," she said. "They are both in the danger zone, regardless if it is in Iraq or Afghanistan."
She said they have spent a "lot of family time together" with their 6-year-old daughter, Kiana, before he leaves this morning.
"We want him to know that we love him very much," she said. "I am proud of what he does. ... I support him 100 percent. All I pray for is that he stays alert and stays safe."
As the Marine Corps swaps out Kaneohe infantry units in Afghanistan, Army officials have upped the training tempo of nearly 7,000 soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division who will be going to Iraq this summer.
Meanwhile, nearly 2,200 Hawaii Army National Guard and Army reservists assigned to the 29th Brigade Combat Team are returning after spending more than 10 months in Iraq.
Nearly 400 members of the 1st Battalion from Kaneohe Bay were to leave Oahu this morning. They will be joined by another 600 Marines from the same unit next week.
In Afghanistan the Kaneohe Marines from the 1st Battalion will replace fellow Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, who left the Windward Oahu base in June. Elements of the 2nd Battalion are expected to arrive home this weekend.
Since November 2004 all three battalions of the 3rd Marine Regiment have been deployed to Afghanistan. The first was the 3rd Battalion, followed by the 2nd Battalion in June and now the 1st Battalion.
This will be the second combat assignment for the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. In July 2004, 900 members of the battalion left for Okinawa for what was supposed to be a routine seven-month deployment. The unit was redeployed to Iraq that fall for the assault on Fallujah in November 2004.
Forty-three Marines and two sailors assigned to the 1st Battalion were killed in action in Iraq before the unit returned to Kaneohe in April.
The largest loss occurred on Jan. 26 when 26 Marines from the 1st Battalion from Kaneohe Bay and one Navy corpsman based at Pearl Harbor were killed in a helicopter crash.
Nearly 7,000 Marines and sailors are stationed at the Kaneohe base.